Moscow-led Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks ties with Russia
According to Reuters, Ukraine was given permission by the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide to form a church independent of Moscow in 2019, largely ending centuries of religious ties between the two countries.
"The council has approved the corresponding additions and changes to the Statute on the Management of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicating the full autonomy and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," it said in a statement late on Friday.
The statement condemned Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine and the support of Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s church, for what Moscow calls its "special military operation" to combat anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine says the full-scale invasion was entirely unprovoked.
A 2020 survey by the Kyiv-based Razumkov Centre found that 34% of Ukrainians identified as members of the main Orthodox Church of Ukraine, while 14% were members of Ukraine’s Moscow Patriarchate Church.
Ahead of Friday's decision, more than 400 parishes had left the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate in the aftermath of the invasion.